As I go about building my portfolio with a variety of projects and clients I always hear the same question: "Why design?" Let me tell you a little story. My love for design didn't start with design. It started with art.
As a child I would write stories containing silly characters I'd make up or plucked from my favourite TV shows. These innocent stories required silly drawings thus where it all began. Soon after, this hobby evolved into ripping pages out of my favourite preteen magazines and recreating the centre spread of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and the Backstreet Boys Mill Mniun…?! (please tell me I wasn't the only one who couldn't decipher the E & two N's in Millennium from the B Boys' album!!) This then further evolved into sourcing cool pictures from the internet to use as references. At the time, I wasn't particularly good. It was just something that passed the time and it was fun laying on my bedroom floor among a mess of pencil crayons and scented markers, headphones blasting the Spice Girls from my walkman.
Those were the days!
It wasn't until high school that I actually allowed art to become a thing. Upon entering grade 8, I was faced with a slight predicament: which elective should I sign up for? It was a big new school so I wanted the comfort of possibly being in a class with my friends. But they were all signing up for drama and band. I wasn't outgoing enough for those, and woodwork was just not my thing. That left art.
Best decision ever.
With every new assignment, I found myself getting better and better. My creations that once appeared as formless blobs with now took on recognizable forms with detailed feathers. My stick people turned into 3D like images as I acquired a skill in shading. I learned how to mix colours and learned which ones to pair together for the most appealing colour schemes (I think even my fashion sense improved along with my writing skills).
At the time I had no idea how this would shape my future. I drew to relive boredom, stress and other emotions. I created art to get marks so I could move on to the next grade. I payed attention in class so I could make cool birthday cards and christmas gifts. I never thought it would take me anywhere significant and the possibility of new doors opening was unthought of.
In grade 10 my love for visual art expanded into a love for film and photography. As an elective, I had the opportunity to choose Filmmaking in my sophomore year and I absolutely loved it. As long as I can remember, I have always been a detail oriented person. I noticed things that most people didn't, and this skill became more apparent when I started studying film.Taking raw thoughts and shaping them into concrete ideas and then seeing them morphed into footage that is later tweaked and arranged into a visual story, excited me. I loved watching movies or reading books, and imagining how I would have filmed that particular scene. I loved learning new editing techniques and trying to figure out how the pros sliced together film. I learned all about the use of colour, light and sound in creating emotions. I couldn't get enough and often found myself, in my mind dissecting movies that I watched with friends and family.
As the end of grade 12 neared and the future loomed like a daunting monster, I had to pick a path for myself. What post education journey would I choose? What would make me the happiest? What would provide me the means to have the life I wanted, needed or even dreamed of? I remember one Saturday morning, it must have been the beginning of grade 12 (before any university applications had been sent out), I was thinking about my future. I'd been struggling with what I wanted to do with my life. I loved to create. It thrilled and inspired me and I wanted to inspire others. But I knew a career in visual arts wasn't going to support me in the way that I wanted it to. Pursuing my love for film was an option, but living on the Island where the industry was smaller and the competition was cut throat seemed daunting and almost impossible. That Saturday morning, while I was making my bed, I thought to myself: What path will allow me to create, inspire people, impact the world positively and support me in the way that I need it to.
And then it hit me, literally. Graphic Design.
A few of my friends had mentioned graphic design and I knew people with older siblings who had studied it. But I never had thought about it for myself. I thought about it for a couple days, looked into what graphic design was and then Fall of 2009, I sent in my application.
From then on I lived, breathed, ate and slept in Graphic Design. I took my love and passion for all things artistic and creative and I funnelled it into design. I was lucky to already have a love for creating, it made learning the ins and outs of design that much more interesting and easy to remember.
It'd be rude to take all the credit for these hobbies turned passions. Rita Haaf, my art teacher was a gem and a kick ass artist herself. My film teacher, Linda McDonald, was a superstar, writer and inspiration. Susan Juby, author and VIU creative writing teacher was very supportive with tons of knowledge and experience. Patrick Foster and Kevin Mazutinec, my design professors, were always a light at the end of a dark 4 AM all nighter. Their shared knowledge, tips and critiques, along with their stories of personal experiences within the business, helped keep the end goal in view. Another inspiration comes from my Nana – Edie Barker. My Nana's paintings grace the many walls of our family home and I remember spending many afternoons spent in my grandparents backyard, mixing water colour paints and creating scenes on scrap paper from her own finished painting.
I owe my love for art, film, writing, design and everything detail oriented to these people. With their knowledge and guidance, I was able to see my artistic gift as an extension of myself. I took their notes and criticism and I tweaked my skills and pushed myself to get better, improving with each go around. These individuals were my teachers, my professors and mentors. But there's two other people that I owe this passion to. Mom and Dad of course. If it hadn't been for the purchased brushes and paints, the watercolour and sketching paper, the pencils and erasers, the help with tuition and supplies, the kind words, genuine interest and encouragement along with hours of brainstorming and editing; I'm not sure how far I would have gone.
The support of family and friends has played a large part in my success as an artist gone designer. I know the passion and skill was inside of me, waiting to be awakened, and fuelled. But I'm so happy and grateful for the people along the way who helped keep the fire burning.
So to answer your question: Why design?
Well, because I wasn't met to do anything else.